Guatemala Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Guatemala: Holidays, Events, Climate

Public holidays

There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.

Date Holiday
January 1 New Year (Año nuevo)
February 2 Day of Tecún, the last Quiché Indian
March April The Holy Week is the premier event of the year. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the country, especially in Antigua. During the night from Thursday to Friday, beautiful carpets are made from colored sawdust or flowers. These carpets cover entire lengths of the street. On Friday morning, huge processions leave the churches and move through the city
1st of May Labor Day (Día del trabajo)
June 30 Army Day (Día del Ejército)
last week of July The festival of Rabin AjauThis festival is the most important Mayan festival. It is the election of the Mayan Queen who becomes Princess of Tesulutlan for one year. This festival is very colorful due to the folk dances and the typical costumes of the natives.
15th of August Ascension Day (Día del Asunsción)
September 15 Guatemalan Independence Day (Día del la Independencia)
October 12 People’s Day (Día de la Raza)
the 20th of October Revolution Day 1944 (Día de la Revolución)
November 1 All Saints’ Day (Día de los Santos)
November 1 The Day of the DeadThis event is celebrated in a very special way: In Todos Santos, the Maya Indians organize a horse race and folk dances. The festival of the giant kites is organized in Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepequez, near Antigua. The residents build giant kites and gather in the cemetery to let them fly, in order to communicate with the spirit of the dead. Some dragons even carry messages for the dead.
24th of December Christmas Eve (Noche buena)
25 December Christmas (Día de navidad)

Source: Countryaah – Guatemala Holidays


Marimba is a typical Guatemalan music that is played on a marimbaphone, similar to the xylophone, but with wooden reeds. Since these wooden leaves are softer than the metal ones, the marimbaphone sounds darker than the xylophone. The musical instrument can be played individually or in groups. The origins of the marimba are not clear; people speak of Africa, Indonesia or the Amazon. There is a huge number of pieces of music that are played in Guatemala at every opportunity.

Cultural events

Guatemala is famous for its colorful indigenous markets.

Market days

Monday Antigua, Chimaltenango, Salama, Almolonga
Tuesday Solola, Panajachel, Santiago Atitlan, Zunil, Almolonga
Wednesday Chimaltenango, San Nicolas, Todos Santos, San Francisco El Alto, Almolonga
Thursday Antigua, Comalapa, Patzicia, Tecpan, Nahuala, Chichicastenango, Nebaj, Tactic, San Marcos, Santa Cruz del Quiche, San Francisco El Alto, Zunil, Almolonga
Friday Chimaltenango, Solola, San Lucas Toliman, Chajul, Salama, Quetzaltenango, Panajachel, Santiago Atitlan, San Francisco El Alto, Zunil, Almolonga
Saturday Antigua, Totonicapan, Chajul, Todos Santos, Almolonga
Sunday Chichicastenango, Tecpan, Nahuala, Momostenango, Nebaj, Rabinal, Tactic, Panajachel, Santa Cruz del Quiche, Santiago Atitlan, Almolonga, Almolonga, Zunil

Guatemala: climate

Travel times

It is said that Guatemala is the land of eternal spring.

The rainy season is from May to October, during this time there are short but heavy

downpours at night and sometimes in the afternoon. The idea of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depends on a number of factors. Pure cultural travelers certainly see the climate differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role.

On the Pacific coast and on the Caribbean Sea and also in Petén (Tikal) it is hot all year round – with temperatures around 30-35 °C.

People who prefer a more moderate climate and lower temperatures should prefer the higher places such as Guatemala City, Antigua, Lake Atitlán, Chichicastenango and Coban for a stay in Guatemala in the summer months. In the winter months it can be very cold in the highlands, Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango, between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius.


  • Presents the way that GT stands for the nation of Guatemala as a two-letter acronym.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Tikal National Park

The Mayan ruins of are located in the Tikal National Park in the northeast of the Peten department. In 1979 Tikal National Park was added to both the UNESCO World Heritage List and the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List. This makes the Tikal National Park the only place in Central America, besides Machu Picchu, that combines both UNESCO categories. The national park covers a total of 576 km².

The Mayan ruins cover an area of approx. 65 km² and the actual inner city area covers approx. 20 km². The former city of Tikal was probably called Mutal during the Mayan times, which means “flower”.

The settlement of the area probably began around 900 BC. BC and around 500 BC The upswing to a city began. In contrast to other powerful cities of the pre-classical period, Tikal did not decline and thus Tikal was in conflict with other powers such as Teotihuacán and Calakmul in the following centuries.

The last stele of Tikal was erected in 879 AD and after that the city was probably abandoned. The rediscovery in the middle of the 19th century initially underestimated the relevance of the facility and systematic excavations only began in the 1950s.

In addition to the natural beauty of the national park, the ruins are of course the big visitor magnet. There are more than 3,000 structures of this ancient city, although it should be remembered that only a relatively small part has been exposed. Tikal is particularly known for its large temples, of which Temple I (Temple of the Great Jaguar) with a height of 47 m is well known.

The temples can be partially climbed and then offer a wonderful view over the rainforest. In addition to the temples, numerous buildings are grouped around the respective plazas.

Another specialty of Tikal are the twin pyramids (Complex M, Complex N, Complex O, Complex P, Complex Q, Complex R and Complex Q) facing each other in a west-east orientation. For visitors who want to explore the facility longer, there are hotels and a campsite on site.

It can be reached from Flores via a direct paved road. There are bus connections with Flores and the airport.

From Belize you should travel via San Ignacio and from Mexico via Palenque and Frontera Corozal.

Mayan ruins and Quirigua Archaeological Park

The Mayan ruins of Quirigua are located in eastern Guatemala in the Izabal department on the banks of the Rio Motagua. The ruins of Quirigua date from the Classical period and settlement probably began around AD 200, and the city’s heyday is dated around AD 700. Around 850 the city was abandoned. Quirigua was rediscovered in 1840.

The site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981. In Quirigua, which is located in the middle of a banana plantation, the most beautiful steles (high, free-standing pillars that are also used as grave columns) from the Mayan period are housed. So also the well-known stele E with a height of over 10 m and thus the largest stele in the entire Maya world.

The steles are very well preserved and tell the story of the relationship between Quirigua and his neighbor Copan. Quirigua does not have any large temples and buildings like other Mayan sites, but makes up for this through the preserved quality of the structures. There are many stone blocks that have the shape of mythological animals, these are also known as zoomorphs.

Antigua Guatemala

La Antigua Guatemala is located in the central highlands of the country. Founded in 1566 by King Philip II, La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala – now La Antigua – is known for its baroque colonial architecture, which, although the area is earthquake-prone, has been preserved.

The city often suffered severe damage from earthquakes, but over 50 churches, a few hospitals, many schools, a printing plant and a university were built. In 1773 the city was completely destroyed by a severe earthquake, but Antigua Guatemala was rebuilt.

Through the secularization of church property in the 19th century, an export economy could be built up, but earthquakes repeatedly destroyed the city. In 1976, another earthquake caused severe damage in Antigua. Ruins still bear witness to this today.

Antigua Guatemala was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.

Major cities in the country

Ciudad de Guatemala,

Guatemala City has around 1 million residents, making it the largest city in the country and its capital. Around 3 million people live in the metropolitan area of the city, which also includes Mixco and Villa Nueva. The city is centrally located inland about 80 km from the Pacific coast and about 220 km from the Caribbean coast in the east. After the destruction of Antigua Guatemala in 1773, Guatemala City became the capital in 1775. In addition to its function as the capital, Guatemala City is the political, cultural and economic center of Guatemala. Furthermore, the city is the gateway to Guatemala due to its infrastructure. The La Aurora International Airport is located here and many important highways start and end here. Visitors will find a good mix of old and new in Guatemala City. The historical city center invites you to stroll and the many museums such as the Museo Ixchell, the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno or the Museo Popol Vuh invite you to visit. The city is divided into several zones.


Quetzaltenango (or: Xelajú ) has around 140,000 residents, making it the second largest city in Guatemala. The city is located in the south-west of the country about 110 km west of Guatemala City and about 75 km from the Pacific near the famous Panamericana at an altitude of 2,234 m. Architectural attractions include the many neoclassical buildings in the old town. The city’s active art scene should also be attractive to visitors, such as the city’s many jazz and blues bands.


Escuintla with its approx. 100,000 residents is the third largest city in Guatemala. The city is centrally located inland about 40 km southwest of the capital Guatemala City. The city is located at an altitude of approx. 350 m and is thus in the transition zone between highland and lowland Guatemala. The city is an important traffic junction, but it hardly offers any sights.


The city of Flores in the real sense describes the city on the island in Lake Petén-Itzá, but whoever speaks of Flores also means the municipalities of Santa Elena and San Benito located on the mainland. This city triangle represents a very important “city” for tourism in Guatemala. Most tours to the numerous Mayan ruins in the Department of El Peten start from here.

special locations


The place is 145 km from the capital at an altitude of 2,080 m. Chichicastengo is a city of magic and myth. In the simple but impressive church you can watch the local indigenous people practicing their religion, which is a mixture of Catholicism and Mayan beliefs.

Visiting his market on Thursday, and even better on Sunday, is a must. It is the largest market in Central America and offers a large number of woven, leather and fabric articles with the typical motifs of warm colors, wooden masks and everyday items. A colorful mess pushes its way through the many unmanageable alleys of the market.

Special structures

Castillo San Felipe de Lara on the Río Dulce (San Felipe de Lara)

This small, winding castle with many entrances and exits is located at the beginning of Lago de Izabal and was built in 1644 to protect the city of San Antonio de las Bodegas against pirate attacks. It is the only fortress in Central America. The Castillo San Felipe de Lara has been on the list of proposals for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

Palacio Nacional in Guatemala City

This former seat of government was inaugurated in 1943 and was the seat of the president. The architecture is a mixture of Spanish-Islamic Mudejar style with Gothic and classical elements. It is magnificent, monumental, very luxurious and is located in Zone 1. The five-story palace has four main entrances, 718 doors and 386 windows made of mahogany, marble floors and numerous courtyards. The interior was designed by the painter Alfredo Gávlvez Suárez, the famous sculptor Rodolfo Galeotti Tores and the window artist Julio Urruela Vásquez. The Palacio Nacional is also known as Kilometro Cero (kilometer zero), i.e. the starting point for all roads in the country. In addition to its occasional function as the seat of government, the Palacio Nacional, whose real name is Palacio Nacional de la Cultura,

Contact 5A Calle 6 avenida y 6 calleZone 1, Ciudad de Guatemala

Torre del Reformador in Guatemala City

The Torre del Reformador is a 75 meter high steel lattice tower in Guatemala City (Zone 9). It spans 7th Avenida at the intersection of Calle 2. The tower was built in 1935 and is similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. In the 1930s, President Ubico had it erected in honor of the liberal reformer of 1871, Justo Rufino. Originally it had a bell on its top, and since 1986 there has been a headlight there.

Museums and libraries

Museo Nacional de Arquelogía y Etnologia in Guatemala City

A must for the archaeological visitor, in this impressive museum, in addition to finds from the Mayan period from all over Guatemala, steles, textiles, instruments and jade jewelry are exhibited. One of the most impressive exhibits is a gigantic model of Tikal, as it must have looked there in its heyday.

Contact 6a. calle 7a. Avenida, Salón No.5Finca La Aurora Zone 13

Biblioteca Nacional in Guatemala City

The archive, founded in 1846, is one of the most important in Central America and contains the entire documentation of the colonial era, including the original manuscripts of the Spanish historian Bernal Dáiz del Castillo from 1560 and the history of the Conquista and the Declaration of Independence from 1821.

Museo Ixchel in Guatemala City

This museum is located in Guatemala City (Zone 10) and is named after the Mayan moon goddess. The museum shows Indian textiles, traditional costumes and the corresponding handicrafts.

Contact 6A Calle 601010 Ciudad de Guatemala

Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno “Carlos Mérida” in Guatemala City

The Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno “Carlos Mérida” in Guatemala City is the national museum for modern art. The predecessor of the museum was the Museo Nacional de Historia y Bellas Artes (German National Museum of History and Fine Arts) and today’s museum “Carlos Mérida” was opened in 1975.

Museo Popol Vuh in Guatemala City

This museum in Guatemala City (Zone 10) deals with pre-Columbian art, more precisely with Mayan art. It is one of the best museums for Mayan art in the world. In addition to ceramic exhibits, there are also extremely impressive stone sculptures from the pre-classical period. The museum has existed since 1977 and is now located on the campus of the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. The name of the museum comes from the mythical-magical book Popol Vuh written by Francisco Ximénez.

Contact Calle Manuel F. Ayau (6 Calle final), Zone 10Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala 0101

Museo Miraflores in Guatemala City

The Museo Miraflores is an archaeological museum in Guatemala City (Zone11) which opened in 2002. The museum’s collection, which includes around 500 exhibits from the former Mayan city of Kaminaljuyu, is exhibited in an exhibition area of approx. 1,200 m². Among them are numerous masks and reliefs.



Teatro Municipal in Quetzaltenango

The Teatro Municipal (Eng. Municipal theater) is located in the city of Quetzaltenango. The theater is of course known for the performance of theater productions, but also for the numerous very good jazz concerts that take place here. If you are not interested in these performances, you should not miss the wonderful neoclassical architecture of the building. The theater was opened in 1895 and today it can hold over 1,000 visitors.

Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias in Guatemala City

The Centro Cultural Miguel Ángel Asturias in Guatemala City is often only called Teatro Nacional (German National Theater). The theater, completed in 1973 and opened in 1978, is named after the Guatemalan writer and diplomat Miguel Ángel Asturias. The theater offers several stages and thus an extensive program.

Contact 4 Calle 3-81, Centro Cívico, Zone 1Guatemala City 01001

Mayan cultural monuments

In Guatemala, visitors will find a particularly large number of Mayan ruins, most of them in the northeastern Department of Peten. Some are well developed for tourism and can be easily reached, others are very remote in dense rainforest. The following are of course only a small selection.



El Zotz

The Mayan ruins of El Zotz are located in the northern part of the Peten department. El Zotz is located in the San Miguel la Palotada National Park and was probably enemies with its neighbor Tikal in earlier times. The beginning of the settlement in El Zotz is not yet known, but last inscriptions describe a war against Tikal in 744. A short time later El Zotz was abandoned. The first excavations took place in 1977 and have been intensified since 2008. As a result, a royal grave with many grave goods was discovered in 2010.

The most famous building is the 45 m high pyramid El Diabolo. From this pyramid you can look to Tikal and vice versa if visibility is good.

Mixco Viejo

The ruins of Mixco Viejo are located in the south of Guatemala in the Chimaltenango Department in the highlands of Guatemala. Mixco Viejo is one of the highland Maya sites. In the past, Mixco Viejo was in constant competition with Iximché and Q’umarkaj. Because of this highland location, Mixco Viejo also offers wonderful views of the surrounding highlands. Mixco Viejo was the last fortress and the former capital of the Pocomon Indians. Mixco Viejo was discovered by the Spanish in 1525. The facility has been explored since 1954. Unfortunately, the ornate stucco work on the walls and the painting of the walls have largely disappeared today. The system can be divided into 4 main groups and 8 subgroups. Overall, you will find numerous pyramids, temples and ball courts here. The complex is not yet a tourist magnet and so you can take a look at all the facilities. The journey can be made from Guatemala City and takes about 2-3 hours.


The ruins of Cival are located in the northeast of the Department Peten, approx. 40 km east of Tikal and thus close to the border with Belize. The current name Cival means “lagoon”, but it is not the actual name of the former city, this is so far unknown. Cival was a very large Mayan city with up to 10,000 residents. The settlement began in the 6th century BC and lasted until the 1st century AD. The city was abandoned after AD 100, why is still unknown. The largest structure in the complex is a 27 m high step pyramid, which is surrounded by temples and squares. Furthermore, many buildings used for astronomy have been uncovered so far. Cival was rediscovered in 1984 and an excavation has been taking place since 2001.


The Mayan ruins of Seibal are located in the southern part of the Peten department, about 16 km east of the town of Sayaxche. The history of the former city extends from the 9th century BC. BC, about the heyday in the 3rd century BC. And a subsequent decline. The city was conquered by Dos Pilas in 735 AD. The city experienced a second blooming phase between 830 and 930. All pyramids and steles date from this time. Loggers discovered the ruins towards the end of the 19th century. The facility can be roughly divided into 4 groups, each of which contains plazas and the structures surrounding them. From Sayaxche you can only travel by boat.


The Mayan ruins of Iximché are located south of Guatemala in the Chimaltenango department, about 90 km west of Guatemala City. Iximché is one of the highland Maya sites. Iximché is now considered the most important and best-preserved city, compared to Q’umarkaj and Mixco Viejo, the highland Maya.

The former city lies at an altitude of 2,270 m and was easy to defend because of this location. The name Iximché means something like “corn tree”. The area was populated for a long time, but in 1470 the place became the capital of Cakchiquel.

The city was rediscovered in the 19th century and Iximché has been restored and reconstructed since the 1940s and particularly intensively since the 1970s.

The complex includes 7 plazas with a total of over 160 different buildings from the post-classic period. It is believed that some of the structures were painted as traces of red, yellow and blue paint were found.

Remote, hard-to-reach Mayan sites


The Mayan ruins of Aguateca are located in the south of the Peten department.

The beginning of the settlement of Aguateca goes back to the year 300 BC. BC and was from the year 700 together with the city Dos Pilas the double capital of the Kingdom of Petexbatún. This also marks the beginning of the city’s heyday, which ended relatively quickly in 830 with an enemy conquest. Due to the conquest and the resulting flight of the king and nobles, the objects left behind are a real treasure for archaeologists. In contrast to many other Mayan ruins, there are no large pyramids, but the existing structures are in very good condition.

Aguateca was rediscovered in 1957 and systematically researched since 1990. This facility is not yet well known and archaeologists are more likely to be found at work than hordes of tourists with cameras.

El Mirador

The Mayan ruins of El Mirador are located in the north of the Péten department, near the border with Mexico. The ruins are located in the Mirador-Río Azul National Park. The history of the former city extends from the 6th century BC. BC, about the heyday in the 3rd century BC. And the subsequent decline. The city was abandoned around AD 50 and rediscovered in 1926. El Mirador was the largest Mayan city in the pre-classical period.

The former city was basically built on a 3-tier pyramid and had some very large buildings that are larger than the much better known structures in Tikal. The most famous are the “El Tigre” temple with a height of 55 m and the pyramid “La Danta” with a height of 70 m. The latter has a volume of 2,800,000 m³ and is one of the largest pyramids in the world.

The Mayan ruins of El Mirador, despite their importance, are not yet a tourist attraction. On the one hand because the excavation process is still going on here, on the other hand because the facility is very difficult to reach. So if you want to avoid other tourists and take the stress of traveling (5 days/4 nights) on yourself, you should visit El Mirador.

The best thing to do is to try to meet like-minded people in Flores and organize a tour with mules and supplies or have them organized.

If you travel to El Mirador, you should n’t miss the ruins of Nakbé, which are about 3.5 to 4 hours away.

Dos Pilas

The Mayan ruins of Dos Pilas are located in the southwestern part of the Peten department, 16 km southwest of the city of Sayaxche. Dos Pilas was founded in AD 629 by nobles from Tikal and was thus initially a branch town. Later the alliances changed and so Dos Pilas found himself at war with Tikal. This led to the abandonment of the city in 761 after the conquest of Tikal. In Dos Pilas there are no large magnificent buildings, but very finely crafted reliefs. The best example is the 6 m wide relief staircase. Furthermore, the many steles and the works engraved on them can be admired. The best way to get there is from Sayaxche. However, from Posada you have to continue on foot or by mule, which takes up to 3 hours.

El Perú

The Mayan ruins of El Perú, the real name of the city was Waka ‘, are located in the north-eastern part of the Peten department, about 60 km west of Tikal. The city was first mentioned in AD 382 and the last recorded in AD 771. El Perú was rediscovered by oil prospectors in the 1960s and excavation work has been going on since 2003.

Visitors will find a total of 4 plazas that are surrounded by more than 500 structures.

Flores is a suitable starting point for a visit. A tour usually lasts 3 days and 2 nights and part of the route has to be covered by boat.


The Mayan ruins of Nakum are located in the northeastern part of the Peten department near the border with Belize. Nakum is part of the so-called Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo cultural triangle. Overall, this cultural triangle covers an area of approx. 1,200 km² and is therefore the largest Mayan research project in terms of area with more than 300 employees.

The beginning of the city’s settlement is not clear, but it is known that the city’s heyday can be dated from the 8th to the 10th century AD. The facility was rediscovered in 1905 and work has been taking place on the facility ever since, although this has been intensified since the 1990s. In principle, the city can be divided into northern and southern parts. The northern part, in which the larger buildings are located, has not yet been explored to the same extent as the southern part. Here you will find the Acropolis, which allows a good view of the complex, the palace with over 40 rooms and several steles.

The best way to get there is from Flores or San Ignacio (Belize). One should choose a four-wheel drive vehicle for the visit.

Piedras Negras

The Mayan ruins of Piedras Negras are located in the extreme northwest of the Petén department near the border with Mexico on the Usumacinta River. The beginning of settlement of the city is based on finds to the 7th century BC. Dated. The history of the city is shaped by the trade on the Río Usumacinta and so the city has several phases of prosperity and decline. Excavations and investigations have been taking place here since 1931. Piedras Negras is known for the very well-preserved and fine sculptures on which the artists were allowed to immortalize themselves with a signature. Tatiana Proskouriakoff succeeded in one of the first successful translations with the artifacts preserved here.

Reaching the facility is an adventure and should be done from the Mexican side. First you drive the Fronteriza Highway from Palenque to Frontera Corozal. From here we continue by boat, although not every captain wants to drive the difficult route.

Rio Azul

The Mayan ruins of Rio Azul are located in the northeast of the Peten department in the Rio Azul National Park. The exact beginning of the settlement is not known, but the high phase of the city lasted from 200 to 800 AD and let up to 400,000 people live here.

In Rio Azul there are many buildings with a total of over 700 structures, the largest of which is 47 m high. A special feature of Rio Azul are the many rooms that still have the original painting.

The journey should take place in the dry season and can be done from Flores, for example with a tour.


The Mayan ruins of Yaxha are located in the northeastern part of the Peten department near the border with Belize. Yaxha is part of the so-called Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo cultural triangle. Overall, this cultural triangle covers an area of approx. 1,200 km² and is therefore the largest Mayan research project in terms of area with more than 300 employees.

The beginning of the settlement of the city is not clear, but it is known that the city was built from 600 BC. Until 900 AD was continuously populated. The facility was rediscovered in 1905 and work has been taking place on the facility ever since, although this has been intensified since the 1990s.

The view from Temple 216 on the eastern Acropolis is particularly interesting. There is also a royal palace, an astronomical complex, ball playgrounds and a twin pyramid complex (as in Tikal).

The best way to get there is from Flores or San Ignacio (Belize). One should choose a four-wheel drive vehicle for the visit.


Capuchin monastery in Antigua In

1725 five nuns came from Madrid to found the fifth and last sisterhood in the city. The life of the Capuchin women was strictly regulated, so the nuns were not allowed to make any visible contact with the outside world. The monastery is the architecturally most idiosyncratic building in Antigua. The builder Diego de Porres furnished it with an unusually high level of luxury for the time. The tower of the monastery is unique, from whose round patio 18 cells of the same size extend.

Cathedral in Gautemala City

The Cathedral of Guatemala City, whose official name is Catedral Primada Metropolitana de Santiago, is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Guatemala. The nave was built from 1782 to 1815 and the steeples were completed in 1867. The architectural style is a mixture of baroque and classical influences. The interior of the cathedral is surprisingly simple, but impresses with its sheer size.

Iglesia de San Francisco in Antigua Guatemala

The Iglesia de San Francisco in the city of Antigua Guatemala is not only interesting for tourists. Many locals visit the grave of Peter von Betancurt here. The construction of the church began in 1541. After the earthquake in 1773, the church was only partially rebuilt. A special feature of the church are the curved columns of the entrance portal

Catedral de Santiago in Antigua Guatemala

The Catedral de Santiago in the city of Antigua Guatemala impresses visitors with its brick arches, columns and other very photogenic features. The cathedral has an eventful history. Construction began in 1542. However, the cathedral was destroyed in 1668 and rebuilt between 1669 and 1680. Earthquakes destroyed the cathedral again and it was partially restored between 1780 and 1820. The cathedral that can be visited today only includes the entrance portal of the former cathedral and so you should visit the current cathedral and the ruins.

Other interesting churches in Antigua Guatemala are:

  • Iglesia y Convento de nuestra señora d la merced
  • Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo

Important universities

University of San Carlos de Guatemala

It used to be the third largest university in America after the universities in Mexico City and Lima. The University of San Carlos de Guatemala is the state university of Guatemala. Teaching began in 1676 with 70 students in Antigua. The university is the oldest and largest in the country. The Mudéjar-style building is built with lush stucco and ornate arcades. The patio with the large fountain is an ideal place to relax. The main campus is in Guatemala City (Zone 12), but the university has other campuses in other cities. Today approx. 153,000 students study here in the following faculties:

  • agronomy
  • architecture
  • Economics
  • Law and Social Sciences
  • medicine
  • Chemistry and pharmacy
  • Human sciences
  • Engineering
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Dentistry

Universidad Rafael Landivar de Ciudad de Guatemala

The Rafael Landivar University, founded in 1961, is a private, Catholic university in Guatemala City (Zone 16). The university has the following faculties:

  • Architecture and design
  • Environmental and Agricultural Sciences
  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Economics
  • law Sciences
  • Political science
  • Humanities
  • Engineering
  • theology

Natural beauties

Lago Atitlán

Alexander von Humboldt described it as the “most beautiful lake in the world” and the author A. Huxley wrote: “… Everyone was tipsy and delirious by the beauty of the landscape”. Surrounded by three volcanoes, the Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro, the lake exudes a very special beauty.

In 1955 the largest lake in Guatemala was advertised as a national park and protected area.

Laguna Lachuá/Alta Verapaz

The approximately 5 km² large lagoon is located in the Laguna Lachuá National Park and impresses with its almost circular shape and its blue-turquoise-calm water in the midst of dense exotic forests.


A cave not far from Semuc Champey, with more than 100 chambers. The first 400 m of the cave are illuminated. During sunset, it is possible to see thousands of bats emerging from the cave to catch their nightly prey.

Volcán de Pacaya

The Pacaya volcano south of Guatemala City and is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Eruptions have occurred continuously since 1965. The Pacaya has a height of 2,552 m and can be climbed as part of a tour.


The city of Monterrico is located on the Pacific coast of Guatemala and the city’s beaches are an insider tip. Here you will find wonderful black volcanic sand beaches where you can relax due to the relaxed attitude to life.


A cave not far from Semuc Champey, with more than 100 chambers. The first 400 m of the cave are illuminated. During sunset, it is possible to see thousands of bats emerging from the cave to catch their nightly prey.

Río Dulce

A wide river that connects Lake Izabal with the Caribbean Sea.

The banks of the river are bordered by the rainforest, in which many indigenous people still live who earn their living by fishing.

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